Last weekend I was in Atlanta for the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference hosted by the GRWA. After a whirlwind of learning, driving, laughing, dancing, and plotting I am ready to write my next book. But before I begin writing in earnest, I am giving myself a well-deserved rest stop.
Why? My brain needs some serious R&R. I love to write. I love the business of writing (okay, I confess I am not a fan of query letters and synopsis writing but I do love networking and pitching). I love planning to write. I love talking about writing.
But I also love playing.
Sure I have work to do. I have two contest entries to prepare for the Golden Heart Contest run by the Romance Writers of America. I have two requests to pull together for two different manuscripts. I have queries to send and plotting to ponder. I have a book I am itchy to write.
But I have to play.
Why? I guess I naturally fall into this rhythm because, well, it is FALL. Autumn is my all time favorite season. There are less bugs, the weather is perfect, and the colors are gorgeous. In Northern VA, I’d slow down a bit in September. School always started right after Labor Day, and I’d use that time to catch up with my friends, go visit wineries and ease my way into a new project. But now I live in Alabama and school starts in the middle of August, September isn’t that autumnal, and I’m gearing up for conferences and workshops.
My new favorite month to slow down in the south is October. The weather is perfect. The skies are blue, the air is crisp but not too cool, and the trees are beginning to transform into gold, orange and red. Our school district has an annual fall break that begins today (unfortunately we lost our full five days but I digress). So travel is always on the horizon during this time. This year we’re traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee to see our friends and celebrate a very good friend’s wedding to a great guy.
So there is a natural stop in the writing schedule. Not a complete stop, but a mini break. I am still writing every day, but I’ve lowered my requirements. I’ve registered for the Golden Heart, followed up on administration for my online workshop coordination duties (stay tuned for the next class announcement), talked to my CPs, taken down all my visual aids for the last manuscript, planned my submission strategy, read through plotting information, transcribed notes from my Michael Hauge workshop (so I can actually read my scribbles in the future), and I have written a minimum of 100 words a day (usually more) as I brainstorm my next story.
I’ve also had lunch with a friend, played with my scrapbooking materials to make my own little “tip” jar for meeting my daily goals (got this idea from the Kelly Stone workshop–pay myself a quarter for every goal reached). I needed to play with paper. Really really needed to do something creative that had a specific end result. I love my little tip jar so much that I want to make one for all my writing friends. I’ve wandered over to a neighbor’s house just to chat. I’ve planned some other social events for later in the month (one trip I’m planning is to go to a cool winery about an hour and half north of here near Nashville, Tennessee–I’ll take pictures). I’ve been giving myself permission to slow down, relax a bit, and enjoy this month to the fullest.
November will be here soon enough. And then it’ll get darker, colder, and yuckier. If it weren’t for Christmas, I’d be toast during the winter. Winter is NOT my favorite season. Snow, ice, sleet, dipping temperatures, dark days, cloudy days and barren landscapes are not for me.
But give me the autumn months. The fresh weather, the golden colors, the hint of excitement in the air, the new foods and decorations, and the gathering of resources as we prepare for that long, cold period of hibernation.
Squirrels gather nuts, bears prepare to sleep away the upcoming months and carb load, and me? Well, I soak in as much sun as I can, clear out the cobwebs and junk, and load up on fun while I begin threading the pieces of my story together. When the first cold days of winter set in, I’ll have my quilt pieces ready to work and my heart full of sunshine so I can pour my stored energy into my story. I’ll be back in high gear come November 1.
For some writers, November is the NaMo month. For others it is the last push before they send out their Golden Heart entries, and for others it is merely a continuation of what they have already been doing. For me? Last year I was a Golden Heart entry writer till the nth hour. Two years ago? Same thing. This year? No. I have my entries ready to roll out the door by October 31. Then I have a month of great learning and writing planned. One where I plan to build on the lessons I learned from Michael Hauge.
This winter I’ll be focused on getting another book out the door. Another story written. Kayla and Drake’s story has called to me. I have gutted an old book and begun laying down the groundwork for a better story. A different story. This isn’t even a revision. This is a new start. I’m excited about the future for my characters. I’m curious about where they will lead me. They’ve been patient. They’ve waited for me to work out the kinks in the fourth manuscript, but now I am ready to meet them and hear their story so I can write it for them.
How do you gear up for the winter? Do you have a favorite season? And how do you give yourself a break?